Some people just don't understand true art. That's what Damien Hirst learned when his seminal work, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living—which featured a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a large display case—was called a "cultural obscenity." The artwork sold pretty well, anyway—for an amount reported to be somewhere in the vicinity of $8 to $12 million.
Brady Baltezore hopes to be similarly laughing all the way to the bank. In the store called Terrific Street that he and several partners will be opening soon on Grant Avenue in San Francisco, a window display now features an art installation that has some of the neighbors up in arms. According to Hoodline, an irate passerby recently posted a note at the front of the store which read as follows: "Your window display is a disgrace. Not at all funny if that's what you think it is. You're in the wrong neighborhood. Shame on you."
What could have created such ire in the hood?
An art exhibit of food cans labeled "BOILED PARROT," that's what. Stacks of said cans fill the storefront window, which is adorned by posters reporting that the parrots in question are "Local!" that there are "2 Kinds!" and that the cans retail for "$2.99 per can." The reference to local parrots, of course, seems to point to the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill, who are so famous they are even the subject of their own documentary.
A closer look at the individual cans reveals that their labels read as follows: "Colorful Sky Rat" and "Boiled Parrot—In Gravy."
Someone has a strange sense of humor, indeed.
That would likely be Baltezore himself. A reply to the neighbors' accusation that the store was "in the wrong neighborhood" was posted shortly thereafter. It read: "Terrific Street. In the Wrong Neighborhood Since 2015."
But Baltezore wasn't leaving it there. In a statement, he wrote: "Just as your trip to the SF MOMA would be in no way improved by the drunken ghost of Jackson Pollack following you around telling you 'what he meant,' we believe that art is best left to succeed or fail on its own merits."
Baltezore is reportedly a graphic designer and filmmaker. He said he was speaking for the group of six partners who own the retail shop when he described the business as "a curated modern general store for the neighborhood, with a creative, craft and art focus ... it'll be sort of a neighborhood clubhouse, with a retail angle." The idea, he said, is to sell branded Terrific Street merchandise, as well as magazines, souvenirs, knick-knacks and "useful things for people who live in the neighborhood."
Baltezore further explained that the display was supposed to be a commentary on "cliched retail environments." He said, "We thought, 'How funny would it be to create an installation that made it look like we were going to open a hyperlocal, hyper-sustainable business that was using the most hyperlocal food item? We wouldn't harm parrots. We love parrots ... In this era, there's a little too much emphasis on what people's reaction is to art, rather than enjoying it on its own merits."
So, relax San Francisco. No one's eating the famed parrots of Telegraph Hill. It's art—at least according to some.